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Fundamentals Vol5 Ahs Illustrated Encyc.

Reviewing: American Horticultural Society / Ortho Fundamentals Of Gardening  |  Rating:
Joan Young By Joan Young on
Badge: Editor | Level: 34 | Yard & Garden Expertise:
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This is the sixth (alphabetically) of a 20 volume set. I give the set as a whole very high marks, and this particular volume gives general information on the basic aspects of any kind of gardening. I have used this a little bit, although I was pretty familiar with the fundamentals before I bought this set of books. However, it is a good reference book for basic how-tos, and includes a list of plants that can be obtained most anywhere and their characteristics

This volume, Fundamentals of Gardening, begins with an explanation of how plants grow, and how to meet their basic needs. Its premise is that good gardeners are made, not born.

Topics covered in the book are

Working with Your Climate

Information on each of the types of climate found in the United States with several pages of monthly temperature, sunshine, growing season, rainfall, and last frost dates for hundreds of US cities. It also touches on creating micro climates in your garden.

Planting and Transplanting

All about when, why, and how to start seeds in place, indoors for transplanting, or whether to buy from a nursery. This covers both herbaceous plants and trees.

General Maintenance

This talks about various hand tools and their care. It includes how to prune trees, and some simple basics about weed control.

Soil, Fertilizer, Mulch and Water

This is a good discussion of the properties of soil and how to improve the soil. There is a good chart that shows how soil pH correlates to available nutrients. The section on soil amendment and improving drainage is extensive and quite good. The components of fertilizers are explained: organic vs inorganic, and instructions on how to fertilize. There are 6 pages just on ways to mulch plants. Various methods of watering are explained.

Treating for Pests and Diseases

There are 7 pages listing and explaining various insect pests that attack plants. This barely scratches the surface of the issue, but it’s good for a book on just the fundamentals.

Choosing Plants

There are 38 pages of photos and descriptions of many common plants that would be good for someone just starting into gardening. This is a nice list, because sometimes a new gardener can’t tell which plants would be simple to start with and which will be more difficult

Lawns and Ground Covers

This is a short section, that only skims the briefest of information about lawns.

This single volume does a good job of collecting a lot of basic information into one volume... sort of a “gardening for dummies” style book.

This set of books was published in 1981 by Ortho for the American Horticultural Society. I signed up on one of those “get one book every 6 weeks and stop when you want” deals. I was determined to come up with the money to get the entire set, and managed to do just that. At the time each volume cost about $15. I now find that they are considered rare and the volumes I am able to locate on line are selling more in the $30 range. The books are richly illustrated with color photographs which do a good job of expanding the text.

Each book is 8.5 x 11.25 inches, hardcover, and 144 pages including the index. The bindings could be higher quality; they are tending to crack.

If you pick up the softcover Ortho books from the racks at your local garden center, you will find some of the same pictures, and some overlap of information, but this encyclopedia goes into more detail and covers many more topics than the Ortho series.